Issue of March 4, 2018
Mt. Province

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The great leader

Embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has two nemeses, both Baguio boys, or should I say gentlemen who are akin to the Greek gods of retributive justice inflicting retribution or vengeance. Justices Samuel Martires and Marvic Leonen have recently taken a hard stance against the CJ.

Lorenzo Gadon who was one of the many lawyers who represented former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her cases before the Sandiganbayan and who made an unsuccessful Senate run filed an impeachment complaint for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for granting allowances and other perks to herself and her staff on foreign trips; preventing judges from issuing warrants of arrest against Sen. Leila de Lima on drug-related charges; acquiring a P9 million bulletproof luxury car; falsifying the temporary restraining order involving the dispute on the elected representatives of the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, Inc.; failing to declare P37 million in fees as government counsel in her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN); and manipulating the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council to exclude then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, for personal and political reasons, thereby curtailing the President’s power to appoint members of the judiciary.

Last Tuesday, tempers flared at the Supreme Court en bancsession. According to a source who was privy to the meeting as well as newspaper accounts, Martires asked the CJ to temporarily vacate her office after confronting her about her supposed failure to submit her SALN before she was designated head of the judiciary in 2011. “What triggered this question was the Feb. 12 proceedings in the House where I heard (testimonies) that you were not able to submit your SALNs. So I would like to be enlightened. Did you really comply with the requirements of the JBC? Instead of answering, Sereno replied, “Justice Sam, your mind is being poisoned. You sound like the complainant.” Apparently irked, Martires said, “This is not about you anymore, this is about the institution. It is about the judiciary whose integrity and dignity is being attacked. We have to save this institution, which we love…So be honest to us if you really filed and complied. You owe it to us. We cannot wait anymore for the Senate. Between now and the Senate proceedings, I request you to go on indefinite leave of absence until such time you are cleared of all these charges. If you don’t want go on indefinite leave, then I will ask for your resignation. If you want, let’s all resign right now. Let’s do it today, not tomorrow. I can go to the media and demand in public your resignation. Don’t force me to do that…” or words to that effect. Cooler heads prevailed and a recess was called so that CJ can seek the advice of her seniors. Sereno then agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence but went to the press through her spokespersons saying she was going on a “wellness leave.”

All hell broke loose and 13 of the Justices rebuked their primus inter-pares (first among equals) with a strongly worded statement on the deception.

Through all this, Leonen’s post on his Twitter account becomes pregnant with meaning: “A leader knows that there is a difference between authority and respect. The former is on a piece of paper with all the trappings of tradition and power. Authority is based on entitlement does not last forever. Respect is painstakingly earned.”A good leader not only has authority but also has the respect of his/her constituents. They follow him/her not because he/she has authority but because he/she inspires them to be the best in what they do.” “The great leader not only understands the value of earned respect, the wisdom of impermanence, and the inevitability of sacrifice. That is, that there is the right time to let go, step down, and allow others to lead.” It is the mark of a great leader who knows that there will be others greater than him or her.” Makes me sigh!

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